Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Fresh start for troubled Channelside

The settlement over the beleaguered Channelside Bay Plaza outdoor mall marks the start of a fresh and exciting remake of downtown Tampa's Channel District. The deal a judge approved Monday ends years of uncertainty over a struggling destination and breathes new life into the effort to grow the Channel District into a vibrant, mixed-use community. The Port of Tampa should work with Channelside's new operator, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, to create an experience that offers a top-notch urban experience.

A bankruptcy judge approved a settlement Monday in the long-running case that clears the way for the port — which owns the land under Channelside — and Vinik's development group to open a new era for the retail and entertainment complex. The deal ends the ownership role of the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which foreclosed on the property in 2010, and puts control directly into the hands of the port. Vinik will pay $7.1 million to take over the operation. The port will absorb about $550,000 in default damages and pay an additional $1.35 million to satisfy the loan. The $9 million deal is a fair price for the Irish bank. And it finally puts Channelside under local control.

The port acted responsibly by moving aggressively in recent months to break the impasse. Vinik's concept of a restaurant-retail-hotel mix at Channelside and an adjacent 23 acres he owns would be a good fit for the fast-growing channel district. Board Chairman Stephen Swindal was right to play a more forceful role, given the millions of tax dollars invested throughout the district in parks, shipping terminals, parking and other public works. Turning around Channelside is key to making downtown more attractive and a more appealing place to live, work and play.

Now comes the hard part. Channelside's uninviting facade and the disjointed environment of the Channel District pose many architectural challenges for Vinik. But he has the property to create a master plan for the area and can be a good partner with the port and the city. Channelside has lost valuable time in the recovering economy, but it still has a distinct identity and enviable location. Vinik also is bringing deep pockets to the redevelopment effort.

The settlement will enable all sides to focus on a new vision for Channelside. The port should continue to play a parental role to ensure that Channelside achieves its promise by shaping the look and feel of downtown for the better.

Comments

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18